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America's 'Announcer Guy'; Don LaFontaine

Jun 14, 2008
"In a world . . ." that is saturated with television, radio commercials and movie trailers, there remains one man whose omnipresence reigns supreme; Don LaFontaine, the Announcer Guy.

For decades movie goers and television watchers have been familiar with 'the announcer guy.' We are so accustomed to his deep rich voice narrating the opening scene that he seems as much a staple part of any movie as the credits. It's almost strange to think that there is really a person behind that disembodied voice, and even more strange to realize that for the last forty years it has been the voice over talent of primarily one man; Don LaFontain.

In many ways, LaFontain defined the voice over talent industry. Most studios are willing to pay hefty fees for the voice over talent of LaFontain, as adding a voice over by LaFontain has been shown to significantly increase the prestige of any film that might otherwise have been considered mediocre. LaFontain immortalized the phrase "In a world where . . ." for opening scenes, which has now become a cliche. Several voice over actors, the most well known of whom are Ashton Smith, Hal Douglas and Peter Cullen, have built their careers imitating LaFontain.

Don LaFontain began his career in 1964 as a recording engineer producing promo spots for the National Recording Studios. While working on the western Gunfighters of Casa Grande, LaFontain had to step in for a voice over actor who couldn't make it. The client was very pleased with his work and LaFontain's voice over career was launched.

Since then, LaFontain's signature deeply dramatic voice over style has been in such high demand that he reportedly voices sixty promotions a week, sometimes even thirty-five a day. In order to accommodate his busy recording schedule, LaFontain is known for employing a limo driver so he doesn't have to waste time parking on his way to recording studios. For the last few years however, LaFontain has done most of his voice over work from the comfort of his Hollywood Hills multi-million dollar home in his personal recording studio.

Because of his huge and long lived presence in audio media, LaFontain is the most parodied of any voice over talent. The trailer for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy gives a definition for what a trailer is, saying the narrator "will normally employ a deep voice that sounds like a seven-foot-tall man who has been smoking cigarettes since childhood." This is not only a blatant reference to Don LaFontain, but the voice narrating is a clear parody of LaFontaine by fellow voice over artist Ashton Smith.

Some of LaFontain's best known work is The Godfather, Jeopardy!, the Batman movies, and America's Most Wanted.
About the Author
Don LaFontain has been the most famous voice over talent(http://voiceoverla.com/) in America for more than forty years. The author Art Gib is a freelance writer.
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